Referees chief backs push for HawkEye for goal-lines

As Alan Kelly returns to action as a linesman in next Saturday’s Kilkenny-Wexford Round 5 Leinster SHC game, GAA referees chief Willie Barrett wants to see HawkEye score detection technology extended to the goal-line.

Referees chief backs push for HawkEye for goal-lines

It has been confirmed the Galway match official will be assisting James McGrath in Nowlan Park, though an official review of his performance on Sunday could have repercussions for him as far as future championship referee appointments are concerned.

Referees development committee chairman Barrett acknowledged a mistake was made in awarding Tipperary a second goal in Sunday’s Munster SHC Round 3 game in the Gaelic Grounds.

In a pre-championship press briefing, Barrett said the use of video technology was “something that will be looked at in the future”.

In the aftermath of the weekend’s controversy, he believes match officials need assistance.

“After yesterday (Sunday), goal-line technology is the thing I would be looking at. We have HawkEye for points in Croke Park and Semple

Stadium and, if we could extend that to other venues, along with focusing it on the goal-line too, that’s the way I would be thinking.

I don’t know how feasible it is but everyone accepts it wasn’t a goal and we have to acknowledge that a human error was made.

“You’d be disappointed, of course, that it would be made. A mistake was made and that has to be put on the record.

“For me, goal-line technology is something that should be considered. That’s my immediate reaction.

“Looking at the replays, the way the hurling championship is now, each game is so important in terms of qualifying for the latter stages of the championship and this was a big call.”

Former GAA director general Páraic Duffy was strongly opposed to the use of a video referee and, while his successor Tom Ryan’s views on it are unknown, a more sophisticated version of HawkEye may be more agreeable to Croke Park officials.

Willie Barrett
Willie Barrett

Barrett’s predecessor Seán Walsh was supportive of the introduction of a TV match official. Speaking in 2015, he remarked: “What has changed my mind is the definitive nature of HawkEye. If the TMO or some version of it was brought in, I could see it being a great help to referees.”

In his Irish Examiner column yesterday, former leading inter-county hurling referee Brian Gavin wrote that the incident had prompted the need for goal detection technology of some sort.

As of yesterday morning, Barrett had not yet spoken to Kelly, but was intending to later in the day, not ruling anything in or out about what action may be taken as regards future appointments.

“We’ll review it next week and we’ll obviously be speaking to Alan today and we will want to get his reaction to it,” said Barrett yesterday. “We have to hear what he says and what was the discussion with the umpires in relation to the call.

When we say we will be reviewing it, there’s no question about it. It’s not a case of us not taking responsibility for what happened.

“We will be looking at it.”

Although there have been some possible sending off offences missed, such as John McGrath’s dig at Seán Finn in last month’s Limerick-Tipperary game, Daithí Burke’s challenge on Luke Scanlon in Salthill last Sunday week and what happened to Richie English in Saturday’s Cork-Limerick affair, Barrett is reasonably pleased with how the major hurling matches are being officiated.

“We have 12 provincial games gone after the Waterford-Tipperary game and we’re in a good place. We have had a couple of reviews and things have been going well but we have acknowledged we’re only a third of the way through the hurling championship.

“We spoke last week, but we know it’s the next game that always counts in our association. It’s always the next outing for the referee that matters and, unfortunately, in Limerick we had that error.”

Somewhat ironically, there is an official GAA production of Kelly featuring in A Day In The Life video from his experience refereeing the Dublin-Cork Division 1A game in Croke Park in March 2015.

Taking charge of the match, Kelly and his umpires experienced HawkEye for the first time. As Paul Ryan steps up to take a close-range free, Kelly warns his umpires that the ball could go low. “Alan (McDonagh), watch the goal-line,” Kelly can be heard instructing.

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